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Abuse from creatures in the outdoors

ast week, my wife and I made a quick trip to Louisiana to help my eldest son prepare his house for sale.

It was one of those "how hard could it be?" times when we thought we would work on tidying up a few things taking a day or two and spending the rest of the week visiting friends and eating fine Southern Louisiana cuisine. One would think at my age I would have learned not to say, "How hard could it be?"

The night before we left, I went into the woods to check the trail cameras to see if we had any big buck pictures. I brought the memory cards home and found that I did indeed have several nice pictures. As an added bonus, I had between 50-100 chigger bites. For those readers not familiar, a chigger bite is similar to that of a mosquito except for the fact they itch more, last longer, and are found only where clothing was touching one's skin at the time of the bite. This includes ankles, waist band, and places that make scratching in public quite inappropriate.

Rising early to begin our 16-hour drive, I itched everywhere. My wife, being the good person she is, offered to spray me down with medicine to control my misery. I saw her take it out of the medicine cabinet or I would have sworn she kept it in the deep freeze. She found it quite entertaining to chase me around spraying me while I jumped up and down whooping and hollering. When she finished, the itch was controlled but I was cold and felt as though I had been freshly varnished. We only had to re-apply a couple of times on the trip. This is something best not done in public. It can attract unwanted attention.

When we arrived at Walter's house, I decided to mow the lawn and tidy up the back yard a bit since he would not be there for several hours. With the second pass of the lawn mower, I felt a stinging sensation on my legs. I glanced down to see several dozen fire ants attacking just above my ankles. I was surprised they could find a free patch of skin between the chigger bites but they were able to raise little blistered welts in several places. I located their hill, poisoned it, and went back to mowing.

I noticed something crawling through the grass in front of the mower. I have learned, when in Louisiana, use caution in approaching things that crawl in the grass. Also things that swim, fly, and sit around doing nothing. Most wildlife in Louisiana bites, stings or scratches. The creature on the ground in front of me turned out to be a huge spider. I first thought about catching it and taking it home to the grandkids. They would love it but their mother would never forgive me. I thought about selling it. A specimen like this would certainly be worth some money. I thought about my chigger and fire ant bites and decided to not push my luck any farther.

I trimmed a branch that was hanging over the house and my right eye started to burn. I do not know if I got some toxic tree sap or was bitten my some other nasty bug but by the time my son arrived, my eye was almost swollen shut. It burned for several hours as though I had poured really strong soap in it.

We spent several days working on projects on the interior of the house. I had about all the abuse I could take from the outdoors.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.